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tia_reljic
Tia Reljic

We’re no millennials, but we’re changing the rules of the game

Most still think the millennial are the new generation, but distinctive world events, social realities and cultural shifts in the past decade and a half have created an entirely new generation — 'Generation Z'

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Tia Reljic
30 November 2017, 8:00am
Generation Z are now of age and entering the workforce, but the idea of them is not something everyone is used to yet. Most still think the millennials are the new generation, but distinctive world events, social realities and cultural shifts in the past decade and a half have created an entirely new generation.

Meet Gen Z – the generation born right after 1995 – which has both confused and terrified older generations, while others are simply not paying attention.

One of the most prominent characteristics of Generation Z, which has served as a foundation for all the rest, is that they are capable of processing information incredibly fast. They will shift between different electronic devices while multi-tasking and tolerating numerous distractions.

Think a 19-year-old isn’t paying attention to what you’re saying as they text on their phone, listen to music, and pack their bags at the same time? Think again.

Having been traumatised by the concept of unaffordable housing among other financial concerns, Gen Z are fiscally responsible, thrifty, and focused most on saving money. They are notoriously busy and entrepreneurial, with some saving up for retirement while studying, working part-time, and juggling freelance projects of various types. They are creative, and always on the lookout for generating income and securing their lives.

Although millennials had their own significant financial struggles – it was the new generation which stood by as their older siblings got crushed by debt, forcing them to rethink their priorities.

"Most still think the millennial are the new generation, but distinctive world events, social realities and cultural shifts in the past decade and a half have created an entirely new generation — Generation Z"
“Gen Z is highly focused on finding a job – likely more so than millennials in terms of finding one quickly after graduation. This is due in part to watching millennials before them, struggling to find a job and pay student loans,” a 2015 survey by European staffing firm Adecco found.

Anxiety about the future is the order of the day, but this doesn’t mean that this generation is not enthusiastic when it comes to their goals. This is a generation born into ever-growing technology, so everything seems possible.

Generation Z dream big, and they’re not wrong to be doing so.

With this, they have been proven to be an incredibly active part of our economy. To think that most of the people who form part of this generation are still in school and yet have such a dramatic impact on our economy begs the question of what the future holds. 

Even more politically conscious and wary of the future than millennials before them, Generation Z are said to be the most conservative generation since World War II. With millennials being the buzzword of the decade, Gen Z grew quietly among the liberal noise.

The prospect of the youngest voters showing support for the likes of Trump and Le Penn shocked pundits, but the signs have been there since the beginning. The new generation is tired of the same democratic policies which have failed their parents – but perhaps most pertinent is the fact that the new generation does not know what it means to live in a world without terrorism.

Generation Z is a direct consequence of global terrorism and the Great Recession, and with the advent of smartphones, there was no way to protect young people from news of war and school shootings.

This also meant that there was no reason to speak to people directly about anything, helping to a shape a much colder generation which does not let emotions interfere with the process of forming political opinions. Fostering a limited few relationships other than their relationship with their computer screen, Gen Z are astoundingly individualistic.

“Gen Z is very independent, so [employers] may notice a reluctance to participate in team projects on certain levels,” the Adecco survey says, adding that Gen Z tend to be more self-reliant due to having taken note of the challenges faced by millennials before them in the job market.

Founder of management training firm Rainmaker Thinking, Bruce Tulgan, stated in a white paper that the age of information led the children of the 2000s to “grow up too fast and never grow up at all,”

“They are privy to everything from a dangerously young age – their access to information, ideas, images, and sounds is completely without precedent. At the same time, they are isolated and scheduled to a degree that children have never been. Their natural habitat is one of physical atomisation and relative inactivity, but total continuous connectivity and communication.”

Generation Z are sober, judgmental, and they don’t like taking risks. They don’t like tattoos or piercings either – at surprising rates – according to a British study.

The new generation tends to support gay marriage and seems to be concerned about global warming and environmental issues. But rather than stand as evidence for this generation’s alleged liberal bias, these priorities simply indicate a shift away from politics-as-usual. In fact, ‘conservative’ is not a label Gen Z tends to brandish, or even accept in some cases. However, even though they might not self-identify as such, much of the political opinions expressed by these young people lean moderate-conservative, particularly on issues of government spending and national security.
  

A fresh perspective on previously left-leaning issues – such as the conservative case for environmentalism – was no doubt influenced by these upcoming voters and activists. From the perspective of this generation, having a viable earth to inhabit is a first step towards nation-building. More than any other generation, Gen Z wants to change the world for the better.

When these seemingly left-leaning, marijuana-smoking, gay-marriage-supporting environmentalists in the USA voted for President Trump, pundits had no explanations other than to point at the apparent ‘apathy’ and ‘dissent’ that young people show towards the neoliberal democracy. But what many failed to point out is that the President’s focus on economic recovery and securing the nation, no matter the costs, spoke directly to the country’s youngest voters.

The new generation is redefining what matters, and shying away from mainstream stereotypes perpetuated by previous generations. They don’t vote for third-option or ‘radical’ candidates as a protest vote, but as a signal that the traditional left-right political spectrum and its issues no longer apply to them. This generation is not confused, but it is overwhelmed, and it yearns for stability.

Millennials love avocado toast and may or may not become homeless. But we’re no millennials, and we’re changing the rules of the game.

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Tia Reljic joined MaltaToday in 2017
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